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Band Name Backstories: REO Speedwagon

It’s always interesting to find out how a band comes up with their name. With REO Speedwagon headlining Junefest on June 3rd at Sunset Station Amphitheatre, let’s take a look at the backstory of their name.

In a story in  March 18, 1981 story in Rolling Stone, we learned that founding member and keyboardist Neal Doughty landed on the band’s name after taking a History of Transportation class in college and learning about Ransom Eli Olds.  Olds was the founder of what became Oldsmobile and the REO Motor Company.  It was REO that produced the truck which inspired band’s name, the REO Speedwagon.

Ransom Eli Olds was himself was quick a fascinating guy.   According to the R.E. Olds Foundation website, Olds received his first patent for a gasoline-powered car in 1886 and went on to invent the world’s first gasoline-powered lawn mower.

Thanks to the wonder of the world wide web, we’ve found some pretty cool videos of vintage REO Speedwagons that have been beautifully restored.  You really have to check these out!

And thanks to your friends at KKLZ, you can see REO Speedwagon, the band, live and in person at Junefest!


1935 REO Speedwagon 6AP


Restored 1936 Reo Speedwagon Pickup